Monday 2 February 2015

Ferry disasters - al-Salam Boccaccio 98 nine years on

On this day............9 years ago, the al-Salam Boccaccio 98, a roll-on, roll-off ferry, set sail from Duba in Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea to Safaga in southern Egypt, carrying 96 crew and 1,312 passengers. It would never get there.

A couple of hours into the voyage, a fire broke out among the 220 vehicles on the car deck. Repeated attempts to put it out failed, and at about one o' clock on the morning of 3 February, 2006, the ship began to list alarmingly.

Within a few minutes she sank, without any of her bigger lifeboats getting launched, and people had to get away as best they could in rubber dinghies. More than 1,000 perished. For the full story see A Disastrous History of the World.

IHS Maritime and Trade Intelligence says that over the last ten years, 4,784 lives have been lost in accidents involving large ferries.  The worst year was 2011, when IHS says 1,642 people died. On September 10 of that year, the Spice Islander 1 sank off Zanzibar, with a death toll estimated at up to 1,500.


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